Saturday, January 30, 2010

Jungle Lore - a book by Jim Corbett (published in 1953)

Jim Corbett was a famous man of the Jungle, who lived in the northern portion of India (the Kumaon and other Himalayan regions) in the first half of the 20th century, and was an expert in the Jungle. He could track animals like the best of them, and was much in demand, especially for killing those animals (tigers, leopards) who had started killing humans. This would happen if the animals were diseased, or badly injured enough that they could not catch their normal prey, or had realized that humans were easier prey, especially in the region that was hilly and very green. Jim Corbett would take up such assignments, tracking down these animals over the days required, and finally hunt them down. He had given up shooting for fun, and only killed when the need was for killing such man-eaters. In dedication to him, a famous tiger reserve called "Corbett Tiger Reserve" was named after him.

Nowadays, the message about the need to protect nature, to ensure that their is a correct balance between man and nature is maintained is very important, since the future of humans depends on maintaining this balance. However, many many decades before, Jim Corbett would write on the same subject, about the hills and the nature of the forests of Kumaon.
The book is about his life, his experiences, and what he learned as a result of his experiences. Corbett had a very strong respect for the animals of the jungle, and the overall beauty of the entire nature experience.

Jungle Lore - a book by Jim Corbett (published in 1953)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Man-eating Leopard of Rudraprayag (By Jim Corbett) (published in 1948)

Jim Corbett was a famous hunter and conservationist, who was born and lived in the Terai region of the Himalayas. He knew the jungle inside out, and was an expert tracker. He was also much in demand for his hunting, but at some time in his life, he had made a vow to not kill for fun, but kill those animals who hunted humans. He is responsible for killing a number of leopards and tigers who had terrorised humans in the region (many of these animals had killed scores of humans). Jim Corbett is now immortalized with the naming of a famous Tiger Habitat, called the Jim Corbett Tiger National Park (having around 164 tigers) located in the same regions where he lived, and where animals are now protected. Corbett wrote a number of books based on the animals he killed, especially since he also wrote about the habitat, about the reasons as to why an animal turned into a man-eater (because it was unable to hunt its natural prey - old age, wounded in a fight, or injured by a bullet), and also about the society of that time.

This book about the chase of an animal famous as the man-eater of Rudraprayag in the year 1925-26, in which he was accompanied by Commissioner of Kumaon, Sir William Ibbotson. They were tracking an animal that had killed around 125 people, and was an elusive hunt, and was a pretty heavy task; compounded by the fact that the region in which the leopard roamed free was around 1300 square kilometers.
As usual Corbett describes the society around him, the superstitions and faiths of the villagers; something which varied drastically between daytime and night. At night, the terror of the leopard would ensure that people kept inside, scared of the leopard. You also realize the admiration with which Corbett held the nature and environment around him.

The Man-eating Leopard of Rudraprayag (By Jim Corbett) (published in 1948)

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Temple Tiger and More Man-Eaters of Kumaon (published in 1954)

Jim Corbett was a famous hunter and conservationist who lived in the region of Terai and Kumaon, in North India during the latter half of the 19th century, and through to the mid part of the 20th century. Being born in this region, he grew up with the forested and mountainous region and became very familiar with it. He loved the jungle, was very comfortable inside the forest, and could track down animals.
He became very famous as a hunter, but he was no there for the thrill of killing wild animals, instead killing those who became man-eaters. Some of the animals (typically tigers and leopards) that Jim Corbett killed were those who would terrorize villages, killing people as they moved around after dark. These animals had typically lost the ability to hunt their native prey, being either weak, or having suffered some wounds in battle, or having been shot and injured; in such a state, hunting humans was far easier than trying to kill their traditional prey. Villagers would call Jim Corbett to hunt down such animals, and he would track them down, sometimes alone (accompanied by his dog) and hunt them down.

These were the days before modern vehicles, so moving between places and through the forests would take a fair amount of time to do. This book is the last such book written by Corbett of his adventures, culminating in the last terrific tale of his quest to kill the Talla Des Man-Eater. The stories have vivid descriptions of the forest, as well as of the rural Indian societies of these remote villages and small towns.
Reading these books will almost give you the feel that you are along with him, and able to get inside the minds of the big killer cats, and you learn to appreciate these huge animals, as well as the reasons why they do need to be killed. You also get to read interesting tidbits such as the superstitions among the people inhabiting those areas.

The Temple Tiger and More Man-Eaters of Kumaon, written by Jim Corbett and published in 1954

Man-Eaters of Kumaon by Jim Corbett (published in 1944)

Jim Corbett was a famous hunter and conservationist born and brought up in India during the latter half of the 18th century, and lived up till the mid-1950's. He was also a colonel in the British Indian army, and also worked for the Railways. He is famous (immortalized to some extent) by the naming of one of the large Wildlife sanctuaries in Uttranchal (India), called Corbett National Park, the home of the Royal Bengal tiger (at current count, there are 164 tigers inside the Park).
Corbett was also much respected by the local population of the region, a mountainous and forested regions; since he was called upon by them to kill many of the man-eating tigers and leopards that roamed in the region. Typically, these were animals that were either old or had suffered injuries during fights or when they were shot, and were unable to kill their natural prey. As a result, they turned to hunting easier prey, such as humans and many of them killed tens or hundreds of humans. The terror cast by such cats was such that people would not move out of their homes during the night.

Corbett had become incredibly comfortable with the jungle, becoming a good tracker and lover of nature. This is when he vowed never to kill or hunt down animals for fun, instead only using his gun when required to kill man-eaters.
The book is an interesting collection of 10 such stories where Corbett tracked and shot down these man-eaters in the Kumaon and other regions. Many of these required much effort to track down these animals, including live baits to get them. As you read about these tracking efforts, you learn about how an animal turns to become a man-eater, and you also learn about the efforts involved in tracking down such a man-eater, especially since such a man-eater loses the natural shyness of humans and can easily attack the hunter. These are very interesting stories.

Man-Eaters of Kumaon (Oxford India Paperbacks) (published in 1944)